Our Community is Our Compass: Reflections on My Year with The Working Group | Not in Our Town

Our Community is Our Compass: Reflections on My Year with The Working Group

By Brian Lau

It’s my last day at The Working Group and after nine months of meetings in school after school, agonizing over emails and blog posts, and making the hour-and-a-half commute from Sunnyvale to Oakland, I think I’ve earned the right to get a little nostalgic.

And what a crazily wonderful nine months it has been. Since mid-September, I’ve been working at The Working Group as a Not In Our Town/Not In Our School organizer through an organization called Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that places young adults in different nonprofits and provides them with different training opportunities and service projects. And with the end of our Public Allies year just around the corner, I wanted to reflect on what I gained from this experience.

I’ve been able to tackle so many different and new things, and I think the biggest thing these past nine months have given me is a better appreciation for what community means. Coming into the year, I didn’t have a good grasp on what the word meant, but both Public Allies and The Working Group place a high priority on recognizing the strengths each community has. And so I’ve come to realize what it means to have community, the way that it extends beyond considerations of geography but into the relationships that people have with those around them.

And I’ve come to find out what people will do to defend their communities and stand up for the values they hold. I get to see community in action when I see students organizing diversity events on their campuses, community members protesting racial profiling on the streets and at city council, and civic leaders stepping up to address hate activity. And I feel very proud and honored to say that I have helped facilitate that.

I would like to give a sincere “thank you” to all the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this year through the course of my work. All the students eager to make change on their campuses, all the educators who’ve helped them along the process. All the communities who have earnestly engaged in the difficult work of making their towns safe and accepting for everyone, all the individuals whose love for their cities and the people in them keeps them motivated to do the work.

And a tremendous, all caps “THANK YOU” to the amazing staff at The Working Group, whose dedication and passion for the work they do is matched only by their warmth and genuineness as people. It has been a joy being able to spend my weekdays with this group of folks and as Patrice likes to say, “Once a TWGer, always a TWGer.”


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